Proposed budget cuts 12 days, teachers
In 2011-12, students and staff likely will be starting school later, ending the year sooner and getting a slightly longer winter break in the Centennial School District.
They will also have fewer teachers and more students in their classes than they did this year.
The proposed $53.8 million budget actually represents a service level reduction of about 12.5 percent, or $6.9 million, said Wendy Reif, district spokeswoman. She noted Public Employees Retirement System costs will increase 5 percent for the district in 2011-12, and the district is also grappling with increased health insurance costs.
Rick Larson, the district's director for business and operations, added that state funding for Centennial decreased by $1.8 million - or 3.7 percent - from 2010-11 to 2011-12.
The district board will vote on the proposed $53.8 million budget during its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday, June 15, at district headquarters, 18135 S.E. Brooklyn St.
Last year's budget was $54.9 million.
'Our costs are going up, and we're getting less from the state,' Reif said. Larson added that federal stimulus funds will no longer be available to fund classroom teachers and programs for low-income students and students with disabilities.
There will be 12 fewer days for students, and the vast majority of district employees' pay - with the exception of certain transportation and food service employees - will be cut by 12 days, the district said.
The mandatory furlough will save an estimated $175,000 per day, the equivalent of about 24 teaching jobs over the course of a year, the district said.
Several factors were considered in determining when the furlough days would be taken, including the furlough days' impact on activities and athletics - teams can't practice or compete on days when there is no school - and the impact on testing.
In-service and staff development days will occur during the first two weeks of September, and school will start Wednesday, Sept. 14, a week later than the traditional start.
School will end a week earlier than usual on June 7.
Two single days of furlough will be Friday, Oct. 14, the statewide in-service day, and Dec. 16, the Friday before winter break.
The proposed budget cuts 33 licensed positions - mostly teachers - as well as 4.4 support staff positions and 1.2 administration positions.
At the elementary level there will be 9.5 fewer classroom teacher positions, and forecasts indicate that average elementary class sizes will increase from around 27 to around 30.
The largest classes at the intermediate level could be as high as 37 to 40. Few elementary classes will be lower than 25 or 26 students.
School board members approved the furlough agreement with the Centennial Education Association, which represents the district's teachers on June 1.
The furlough agreement includes a one-time financial incentive for licensed employees eligible for retirement or those wishing to leave for other reasons. The incentives, available only to licensed employees, are intended to create vacancies that could be filled by other staff members who might otherwise be laid off.
The agreement also includes a financial trigger, so that if the district nets more federal, state or local money than projected, some days or positions would be reinstated.
The furlough days represent approximately one-third of the budget cuts. Meanwhile, another third of the cuts are from the staff reductions, and the final third will be covered by dipping into the district's reserves, which will fall below 3 percent next year.
'We're going to be below that for the first time in quite some time,' Reif said, adding 3 percent is generally considered the minimum percentage of reserves a district should have.
Centennial Middle School is losing a counselor and changing its eight-period schedule into a six-period schedule in order to absorb other staff cuts. Students will have only band, choir and wellness (health and physical education) to choose as electives. Meanwhile, the school will no longer offer foods, art and technology classes, Larson said.
At the high school, no programs have been eliminated, but students will have fewer options and larger class sizes because staff reductions are being absorbed by offering fewer sections of a variety of subjects. For example, the high school will offer fewer sections of metal shop, business and marketing, Larson said.
If you go
• The district board will vote on the proposed $53.8 million budget during its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday, June 15, at district headquarters, 18135 S.E. Brooklyn St.